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Responsibility – a word too big for your early schoolers to pronounce properly. Well, then how do we assume they not only understand that word but imbibe it too? Quite ironic isn’t it.
Once I received a forward on a messaging service about a girl reminisce her father bring toffees for her and her three siblings. She was always entrusted with the job of sharing it between her siblings. And share she did, that too without any complaints from her siblings!!! Today, when she has to give sweetmeats to her kids, she makes it a point to give each one their share ensuring there are no fights. Hasn’t she just relinquished her opportunity of teaching her own kids the meaning and responsibility of sharing – something her father so effortlessly achieved?
“If it’s your story, you get to write the ending “– Brene Brown, Author
Let us walk through some tips to keep your kids responsible and grounded.
Train them young
Somebody rightly said that it is easier to train a child than repair an adult. It isn’t a fairy tale. One fine day your child is not going to wake up to his responsibilities. Maybe we need to grow up from that thought.
There is no age to start training them. Kids will not be responsible; we need to make them feel responsible.
Routine and discipline
When a parent sets a routine for a child, however menial it may sound; with time he or she adapts to complete that task. And tell me about it, it’s no cakewalk. I have been instructing my son to keep his shoes in the shoe-rack when he trots back home since kindergarten, but three years down the road, he still doesn’t keep it unless asked to.
As a child progresses, a chore or to-do list will help him with his tasks.
Involve them in activities
Very often we notice our kids do not abide the tasks in the way we perceive them to. In the early years, we can show them how a task needs to be done. Children very often learn by example. Enlist their help while polishing shoes, or doing the dishes. Involve them in weekly shopping trips, planning the holidays etc. They see, they learn. Even we cannot shoot an arrow in the dark.
Align age appropriate responsibilities
Do not burden the children with responsibilities; line them up in a natural progression. In the early toddler years, it may be a miniscule job, like keeping their soiled clothes in the laundry bag. As they grow we can assign activities which they would be answerable to – like keeping their books as per the time-table, folding the fresh clothes after laundry, answering phone calls in your absence, feeding and walking the pet, running for groceries etc.
Teach them to face consequences
With responsibilities, comes the pressure to successfully complete the task. If your child hasn’t put in his books slated for the day correctly, avoid a run to school to give it to him. He must know his parents will not watch his back always. He might be upset, but let that be. You have just taught him to be more responsible the next time. You can tick that responsibility off your chart!
There is a lot of passive learning kids assimilate when they listen or read stories as young kids. They start learning the difference between good and bad, strong and weak, friendship and goodness. They unknowingly create a thin line of understanding in them. They will be ready to face the responsibilities as and when it presents.
Allow unstructured space
Encourage unstructured and self motivated games and activities. Let them make their own rules and regulations. Put their minds to work, build their own defences and know their limitations. It maybe a war play or building a Lego vehicle set. Children learn not only from your experiences, but their own experiences too.
Allow self decision making
Just the other day, my son wanted to watch two animation movies. I gave him an option to choose one of them, purely his call. I can chaperone as long as he stands to his choice. Let the children make some decisions, understand their outcomes, feel the sense of what-if situations. It is fine if the outcome doesn’t meet your expectations.
It is important we do not bring up kids with shallow confidence. Their mistakes should not tarnish their own self image. Encourage them, but no false praise.
Avoid over indulgence
We so like supervising things around us, that we do not realise that we just over step our line at times. Children of today have a mind of their own. They are an evolved species, much more capable than us. Just take a step back, give them their space and independence to complete a task assigned to them. Do not judge or criticise them before the curtains fall.
Yes, by not teaching our kids the ropes of responsibility we not only alienate them from a key learning skill but also other associated skills. They are our kids; we need to be responsible first.
Read more about : 8 ways to instill moral values in children
There is a quote by Ann Landers – “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do themselves, that will make them successful human beings.
Author – SuccessYeti